We Are All Story-Tellers

I love to talk. What can I say? I love to express my emotions, ideas, and thoughts through words…admittedly, sometimes without thinking beforehand.
What I love more is to listen.
I love to listen to stories…
Stories of joy
Stories of heartache
Stories full of fun and adventure
Stories of redemption
of struggles
childhood memories
dreams
rejection
love
family
friendship

I love to see people’s face light up as they enter into their own world…we are all story tellers, and we all have a story to tell.

I have my own. Which is why I write. It is why I journal. It is why I blog. It is why I paint. draw. dance.

My story is my life.
It shapes the way I live.
Your story does the same.

I have found that getting to know ourselves is scary. We are with ourselves all the time. We wake up in our minds and tuck ourselves to sleep in our thoughts. So the story that goes along with who we are can sometimes be suppressed.

I want you to know, that there is someone out there that cherishes all the adventure, redemption, rejection, dreams, heartache, and joy that goes along with where you have been and how you have gotten to the place you are at in this moment.

Along with finding out that it is hard to let ourselves deeply know who we are, it is also hard sometimes to acknowledge the caring people out there, who have a heart to listen to the story each of us have. Each of us has a story that holds joy, happiness, and good memories, but we also have stories that are full of sadness, pain, and rejection.

I am sitting here in my house I have grown up in, thinking of the memories I have made in this city…of the memories I have made in my college town…and even the memories I have made within the past week…and though it is full of laughter, friendship, and love…it also holds failure, pain, and tears.

I do not think of those parts of my life as a road block, but through those parts I have grown the most and have shaped my character tremendously more than any other time…and I am thinking about these times and feeling thankful I have people in my life who cherish these times, just as much as they share the parts of my story where it was all joy and happiness. I have people who have loved me hard, and have cherished my stories whether it be for better or worse, simply because they have made me who I am today.

You have someone in your life who does the same.

I want to encourage you to open up to the fact that YOU are a story teller, who has a story, and has someone who not only wants to hear about the good old childhood memories, but cherishes the deepest parts that you have a hard time admitting to yourself.

I challenge you to acknowledge where you have been, but remembering to think how far you have come…and to acknowledge that there is someone out there who honors you for that journey.

I have no idea where all of this is coming from…only that this past week I have been on spring break. After a last minute trip to a small beach town in Florida, with a side adventure to Disney World and Charleston, SC… I have found that stories can build out of nowhere, and life always likes to throw us an unexpected curve or detour…but no matter if that detour or sudden curve brings us heartache or joy…it is beautiful simply because it contributes to who we are, each of us beautiful and individually cherished for who we are, where we are at, no matter where we have come by at least one person in our lives.

I suggest we cherish those people…they are few and in-between.

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The Struggle of Time

Time.

When I think of time, I think of constraints.

I think of due dates and lists of to-dos.

I think of planning and scrambling to get things done.

There never seems to be enough of it…time, that is.

The limits of time seem to cause me stress.

Yet, time is beautiful. It is a treasure.

Time is quality.

Time is a blessing.

The time we have today is the moment  in which we are present…
in which our past meets our future.

This moment in time is where we have the opportunity to be stewards of our past failings while improving our future.

This moment in time is where we have a choice to make life count.

It isn’t about the amount of time that makes moments and memories so memorable…
it is what we do with the time we have, and how we embrace this exact moment that makes life memorable..

 

So in this moment, where are your thoughts?
How beneficial are those thoughts?

I find myself thinking more about how I am going to get tasks completed in the time that I have than focusing on the task itself.
I find myself thinking about how much longer I have until I am free of the burden these tasks…Yet, I can be free in this exact moment.

The quality of time surpasses the amount of it, and the quality of this time and this moment is chosen by us through our thoughts and through our actions.

I am attempting to transform my perspective of time to no longer seeing it as a constraint, but as a beautiful treasure not only for completing tasks, but to share to others.

Time is not only a stress causer, but our hoarding of our time can be selfish.

Remember, time is beautiful, a treasure…so share it with someone else.

I know for me, I get so caught up in the stress of tasks, I use all the time I am given to myself in attempts to completing those tasks…yet  I forget that the highest quality of time is when it is shared and cherished by people.I know for me, the time I am given by other’s speaks more about how important I am to them than anything else ever could.

Make the time you have right now a moment of embracing the connection of what was the past to what is now the future. Within the moments you have, create time of good quality by choosing beneficial thoughts, unraveled of stress…and ultimately, share it with others.

This is your time, choose to make it worthwhile.

 

 

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Me, Myself, And I?

Someone told me awhile ago that this is the time in my life where it is okay to think about myself, and do what I want, and not make huge sacrifices for others.

I disagree.

We live in a society that tells us it is all about us. We have a ‘me’ orientation where we think everything revolves around ourselves, and our priorities should be first.

I disagree.

Someone says, “This is the time you live it up, do what you want, and what makes you happy!

Serving others… Prioritizing my time for others is what makes me happy. This is what fills my heart with joy.

I only find fulfillment in my life by making a difference in the lives of others.

This year I have really struggled with finding happiness within school…I started thinking about what is so different about this year than last year…

Granted, while being a freshman, everything is new and exciting, and then after that, the routine and monotony can easily set in…but I felt like this feeling of unhappiness…this fulfillment was coming from somewhere else…

The root of it all was that I was making things too much about me, and less about the community I have such a heart for…

Going through school to fulfill my dreams isn’t cutting it for me. I have been focused on my dreams of someday eventually making a difference, built the time to make a difference is NOW.

So turning it back around, I no longer will listen to those who depict this time of my life (my college years) as,

“Be young
you do you,
this time is all about you.”

This is fundamentally why…

This is the first time many people are away from their families, we are able to make judgments on our own without the complete influence of our family… this is the time we form habits of our own which will carry us as a foundation through the rest of our lives…where we form our own thoughts, ideals, and values without the influence of parents, family friends, etc (granted, we are never without influence, but we now have more power to determine where those influences come from)…and honestly, I think these kinds of thoughts about the lifestyle we choose throughout college and it’s continuous overflow into the time after college goes under the radar.

Why begin a habit where everything we do is for our own personal gain? Where is the improvement in the community? Where is the example to do good for our neighbor, even if there needs to be a sacrifice on our end?

I choose to disagree that this time is all about me, myself, and I.
I choose to go against this ‘me’ orientation society has told me is acceptable,
and live on my own terms…

Where I hope to make a difference along the way, wherever this life is leading me…Starting NOW…may this life be in a direction of influence, inspiration, and change that we all need.

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The Back Roads to Freedom

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Lately I have found my mind wondering back to the times I spent down the back country roads near my house. These roads gave me freedom to sing at the top of my lungs…and at other times these roads gave me a place to process thoughts that brought a steady flow of tears down my cheeks.

It has been a long time since I have taken one of these drives. Just my car, me, and the open road where it seems like there is endless possibilities, a thousand dreams to be pursued, and a million nostalgic memories to think about.

I am sitting here on my dorm bed in the mountains on a cold winter night, frustrated. I am in school, an amazing opportunity for my future…in which I have no idea what that looks like. I have amazing and influential professors, I am immersed in the knowledge at my fingertips, and the amazing and inspiring people who have come into my life here…but my heart is yearning for this open road…where my mind wanders freely without a worry or care of where I might be going or how long it will take me to get there.

I am starting to change back into the person who considers teaching English in another country, and thinks about taking long extended trips on little to nothing. I think about what it would look like to give up this structure, of school and assignments, and immerse myself into the adventure. right now. On Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 11:00 pm.

But then I think, even though I am not physically on the back roads at home…I once again feel my mind wander to the possibilities and adventures this life can hold. There is this resurrected feeling of a free spirit within me that exudes excitement over the things that lay ahead. I feel inspiration. I feel light. I feel joyful, and even giddy.

Outside what seems sometimes to be monotonous schooling where I don’t know what I want to do, therefore I have a hard time finding purpose in exactly what I am studying…I feel peace and joy and expectant for a life of adventure, within or without the U.S. With amazing people and amazing conversations that in me a passion I felt I have somewhat lost.

I feel the carefree feeling of the wind and warmth and sunshine like I used to feel on those summer afternoons driving into North Carolina…I feel it through the acknowledgement that even though sometimes my studies might seem monotonous, and hard to find purpose, this opportunity right now, right here in the mountains is just as an adventurous opportunity as any…because even though I might not be immersing myself into a completely different culture outside the U.S, or teaching English in another country, or living a life of travel on little to nothing…there is still the adventure of the unknown. 

I do not know who I will meet tomorrow. Or what I will do or encounter within the week. Anything can happen. And who knows, the people I meet and the events that might occur tomorrow could possibly shift my life into something I never thought possible.

This unknown, used to cause so much fear in me. It bound me in decisions and created anxiety, but now…Now it is causing a perspective of adventure in what used to seem like an exhausting life choice.

Who knows where I will be in a couple years from now. Here. There. Anywhere. With whom. For how long. What I will experience. Or what I will have learned. It all starts here. Today, in the unknown of tomorrow. And that is my adventure.

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What Is Love Anyways

I am twenty years old. So…What do I know about love?

Well, this is what I know from experience (I will get into the experiences later)…

True love is selfless. It is without conditions. It is a source of encouragement. A place of support. Love is where there isn’t a record of how many times I have done wrong. Love is a place. Love is a place of comfort, a place of renewal, and a place where we find hope.

The question, “What is love?” is always on my mind. Really though… always.

It is such a dense question, because love is an action, not merely a feeling.

Love looks like something. always.

It can look like waking up early to pick up your friend from the airport.
Or writing a note to a friend, just a reminder of how great they are.
Love looks like making time for people.*****
It looks like doing laundry for the displaced in the community.
Love is when someone else becomes a priority. Which can look like, staying up an hour late to tutor someone, or finding time in the day to simply make someone a meal.
Love is action. Love is an act of honor.

Honoring who they are, where they are at in life, and with a heart set on meeting them right there, in that moment…through an act of selflessness without any conditions.

And sometimes loving is hard. Especially to do so without conditions.

We live in a society where we want instantaneous progress and we want gratification in that specific moment. So if we might not see instant gratification in loving someone well…we might feel unappreciated or we don’t see the impact an action has made…this can make love hard.

Cool thing is, this kind of love takes us out of our comfort zone in which society will tell us…focus on yourself, your own goals…Western culture punches a ‘me-orientation’ stamp into our brains…but this…this love is challenging because it puts us in a situation that isn’t really about us, and it isn’t about personal gratification that we all want instantaneously.

It isn’t about us. That is what makes it challenging. There is no instantaneous reward, and there is no promise that we will see the benefits of how we love someone, what we do for other people…but does that make it wrong?

No. It makes it the perfect definition of what love really is.
Selfless and unconditional.

For love to be unconditional, love can’t be based on emotions…
Which to a lot of people probably makes no sense I understand that.
Here is my perspective:
Emotions and feelings are conditional. We feel a certain way based on the situations and events around us. There are going to be more than many times when a spouse, a best friend, a family member, an acquaintance…will do something or induce something that makes us hesitate how we feel about them in that moment…this is conditional.

True love, selfless love, is unconditional.

Honestly, I think the philosophy…people should get what they deserve, or the whole, “Why should I treat them with respect if I am not given the decency of any respect from them?” How is this mindset going to make a difference for anyone or anything?

Answer: It won’t.

I want to make a difference.
I do not know exactly what that looks like in my relationships I have today or will have in the future.
I do not know if I will ever see the difference I made in the lives of others…

So why do I feel so strongly about this selfless and unconditional love I keep blabbering about?

Here is why:

There have been times where I was not grateful, I was not acknowledging what others had been doing for me and what kind of sacrifices they made for me. I did not appreciate any of it, yet these amazing and inspiring people still chose to love me anyways…

One great example, which I know a lot of people can relate to, some can’t specifically, but there is more than likely someone else you could think of that in some way relates to her role in my life…my mom.

My mom is one of the strongest people I know. She is the hardest worker I know. She is the kindest person I know. She is the most inspiring person I have ever had come into my life. She has sacrificed more than I know for me, my education, my goals, my dreams, and my hobbies.

Back in the day, and even sometimes to this day, I was the typical brat high school teenager who had no idea what she was saying or how hurtful they were. Actually…I knew, but I was careless. I said what I wanted and treated my mom how I wanted. I gave her the backlash of my own frustrations daily. Not once did I truly show my appreciation for what she has done for me.

So what has she done for me?
Well other than giving birth to me and giving me the opportunity for this life, she has financially supported me through hobbies and sports such as horseback riding, soccer, swim, yoga, and softball. She has taken time off to take care of me when I needed her. She has driven hours on hours to watch me play in tournaments or visit me while I am in school, especially when I needed a break. She has listened to numerous pointless breakdowns where I was being a drama queen. My mom has painfully watched me make my own decisions knowing they might not have been the best for me at the time, but knowing I needed to make those mistakes. She has stayed up all night in worry to make sure I would get home safely. My mom has talked me through anxiety attacks in the wee hours of the morning. She has built my self-esteem and provided me with an example of what hard work looks like, what perseverance is, and she has shown me how to be a strong woman.

She has been this example to me, this listening ear, this encourager I depend on, and my financial supporter for the last twenty years…even through the years of nonexistent gratitude, selfishness, unnecessary backlash, and unending hateful words…she has never ceased unconditionally loving me the hardest she can, as selflessly as she can…

I want to be that person to someone else one day. I want to be the person who doesn’t need acknowledgement, and even though I am tired and might feel unappreciated, I love hard with a selfless heart, unconditionally and ALWAYS.

She is why I want to love people with the love she has for me.
Because the difference she has made in my life, inspires me to make a difference in someone else’s life.
I want to love hard, love well, love selflessly, love unconditionally to those around me…
to make people feel as special, worthy, and as significant as my mom has for me.
Through her love she has shown me that I am worth something, something more than I think I deserve…and I desperately, within the deepest parts of my heart…want other to people to feel that way too.

I love you mom.

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A post in spite of Amy Glass of Thought Catalog

If I had written my own response, it would sound nearly exact to this.

Leaky Blather

I recently read this post on Thought Catalog and although I thought the things I should be doing right now are important, I have to post about this absurdity. I’ve loved Thought Catalog, but this just really rubbed me the wrong way and so my day is buried in the seeds of rage. I had to reply to her post because Amy Glass’ simple-minded attitude that life for women is based on black and white decisions is seriously flawed. I plan to do “exceptional things” in my life, which INCLUDE having a family. Ms. Glass, I’m sorry that you think getting married and having kids is something that’s “average” or unworthy of celebration. My immediate response to this infuriating blog post is the following:

“Wow. Your thought process is so one-sided. I really hope you get to experience all that life has to offer so that one day when you…

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I am on an Adventure of Discomfort

I am a firm believer in the idea that when we are put into some kind of discomfort, when situations and predicaments are uncomfortable we experience a huge amount of growth within ourselves.

Rewind to the time I was in the locker room at the gym this morning…

I overheard a couple of women talk about how much they desperately wanted to find purpose and involvement within the university community but they did not want to put themselves out there to try out, rush, or join anything out of the fear of being rejected or simply not accepted. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: Do not let the fear of rejection be the shield/wall that keeps you from LIVING THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE.

Yes, putting yourself out there will be uncomfortable…especially if it is new, and even when it isn’t new, there is still a level of discomfort that comes with making yourself vulnerable.

Yes, sometimes we have to sacrifice our comfort level and make ourselves vulnerable to achieve something and to find some sort of gain in either getting involved, making a difference, or truly experiencing the environment we are in. To truly find deep connecting relationships, vulnerability is a must, and YES IT IS UNCOMFORTABLE.

Most of the time we want to find connections, whether it be on campus at university, within the organization you are affiliated with, with your neighbor, or someone you work with, or with your job in general…being vulnerable looks like putting ourselves out there to be able to gain connections, or to get that promotion, or to become a member of that organization, or to find those fulfilling deep friendships. For any of this to happen, it is NECESSARY to be okay with having some level of discomfort.

So yes, there will be some sort of disappointment along the way of achieving a life worth living…which is a life of vulnerability and discomfort…and ultimately from that comes personal growth in character and a gain in positive perspectives.

So, with all of that. I have decided to go on an adventure of discomfort…to take an aspect of my life that I am overly dependent on, that I use as a crutch and shield from some of my insecurities..an aspect of my life that interferes with being present at school. For the rest of this semester, I will not be on my phone walking around campus, and I will not use it to check social networking sites like Facebook or Instagram.

So many of us miss out on our environment, what is around us. The fact that we might have to interact and socialize with someone we barely know anymore or try our best to avoid because of some past event makes us uncomfortable, so what do a lot of us do…escape through our phones. It happens, and I am guilty.

Social networking sites have also been a way of escaping reality not just to avoid people…but to live through other people’s lives and compare theirs to our own. I hope through this semester I become independent from how I see other people live via social media, and really interact with others physically around me and know the reality of how they live their life…because we all know how misleading it can be to see someone’s life though the internet.

I want to acknowledge more people that I pass. I want to interact and redeem relationships I haven’t deeply invested in. I want to embrace more time being in the present than in another world that distracts me from the life in the moment.

I extremely encourage you to look at your life. Think about the things that keep you back from living the life you want to live, or living the life that has the most fulfillment…is it because you are too connected to social networking sites and phone conversations rather than being in the present moment around you, or is it the discomforting idea of being denied or rejected, or maybe ladies, it is the make-up we try to hide behind…because our real face isn’t good enough? Embrace that natural beauty. Embrace the environment around you. Embrace the community you want to be involved in. EMBRACE it. GO AFTER IT. LIVE LIFE.

Until next time.

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Fear Driven No More

Investments.

That word causes emotional havoc within my heart. The word ‘investment’ brings about seriousness, commitment, and a need for consistent priorities. It requires responsibility. It inevitably is associated with getting older and gaining maturity.

A couple of weeks ago I hit a new decade, my twenties. Ah, how glorious it sounds not to be in the ‘teens’ anymore…but at the same time, being in my twenties, there is this expectation that in a few years I need to know what I am doing with my life and what kind of career I am going to pursue.

I am currently a psychology major with a women’s studies minor (for those who know me, my minor suits me well)…but I have no idea what I am going to do with my major…or if I am going to use it at all for a job I get after graduation.

I am expected to know where I am going to invest my life. My career, will be an investment. My family, if I am to have my own one day, will be a HUGE investment. These are the things that are expected of us to have figured out throughout our twenties.

Honestly, I saw screw it. If you know me personally, you know I absolutely hate being put in a box of categories that limits my character in it’s entirety. I do not like to be grouped into things that only depict a single part of a whole. There is so much more to me than that. So it just makes sense for me to also dislike having society’s ‘norms’ dictate how I live my life.

Now reigning it back in…to the word “investment”. It causes me to be overwhelmed, and it causes a lot of fear. This fear has been putting thoughts into my head like, what if I’m not good enough? What if I fail or fall short? What if the people I invest in screw me over?

Did you notice that was a LOT of ‘what-ifs”? Yeah, I did too.

Lately I have been living with the fear of having investments in my schoolwork… because the idea that I might fail. I have been living with fear that the people I invest in will take advantage of my vulnerability and hurt me.

I do not believe it is wrong to be scared of some things. It genuinely can be healthy. But fear that causes doubt in myself, fear that causes second-guessing, and/or fear that causes me to step back from your ambitions because the idea of failure… is not okay. Fear that builds walls between myself and the people I love, who I cherish, the people who support me, encourage me, and have inspired me… is not okay.

So here is my declaration, for the entire technological community to see, I will be fear driven no more.

I hope to find new strength, a renewed passion, and a quieter heart to those around me by living life without letting fear make my decisions for me. I hope to be more genuine and vulnerable in my relationships…because I want vulnerability and deepness from others as well.

I express all of this because I know a lot of people, wherever they are in life have doubts, and have a bunch of ‘what-ifs’ clouding their mind. Some of us are better than others about pushing those thoughts away, and some of us, even unconsciously knowing, let these thoughts create a life that isn’t as full as it could be…because fear is limiting.

I am choosing to live my life with perseverance, ambitiously going after goals without any doubt and with confidence that I will get there… without the doubt, am I strong enough to do this? and especially without the fear of close relationships that creates walls between me and the people I hold most dear.

I welcome you to do the same. Challenge yourself. Make life an adventure controlled by ambition, not fear.

I am extremely excited to continue to share my life, my thoughts, adventures, and simple experiences with all of you…so stay tuned.

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Getting Stuck in the Future

I plan. I plan my workouts a week in advance. I plan when I need to read what assignments and study for what tests for the week. I have daily schedules. I make lists. A list of to-dos. I keep a planner. I am organized. I am a planner.
So it is no surprise I like to plan even farther in the future than just a week. I have a tendency to stress about what my summer will look like…Will I be able to have a job between my month studying abroad? If not how will I make money? Will I be able to take summer classes? What research am I going to do before I graduate? Where can I find an internship? How am I going to be able to submit my thesis in the time I have left here at college?
Plan. Plan. Plan.
What will I even do with this major? Do I plan on going to graduate school? If not, then what? Where will I live? How will I make money?
All of these questions tick through my head and about a thousand possible situations and plans will go through my head in a given week about all of these life choices I will make within the next two years.
The thing is these questions create more stress and anxiety than they do problem solving with my method of planning…because honestly, planning isn’t everything.
Having a plan does not mean that there is greater success. Lately I feel like having a plan for a set future within the next 5 years at my age (early 20s) is useless. Yes, goals and ambitions are key to success, but looking back within the past year I realize just within that single year my life has taken a drastic turn and I am in unchartered and unplanned territory. I have gone through successes and have obtained great achievements, I have experienced so much joy, and I have gained an amazing community of friends that have shown me how to love well and hard. I have also experienced failure, rejection, condemnation from my closest of friends, lost friendships, and tough personal lessons that have challenged my character.
I have goals. I have ambitions. I have plans. Yes, they are there, but they are tentative. Everything is changing around me at such a fast pace. The people. The classes I am taking. The opportunities I am offered. The personal growth I am experiencing. All of these things have displayed immense change in a short period of time.
Who knows where I will be in the next five years. Married. Single. Having a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree. In school or out of school. Living on the east coast or out of the country. Who knows if I will be a school counselor or getting paid for professional research. I do not know.
What I do know is no matter where I am, what I am doing, and who I am with, I desire for a character that is full of grace, patience, and selfless love. I want to be someone who loves hard and loves well. I want to have a passionate heart with a gentle spirit. So instead of getting worked up, anxious, stressed about things in the future I cannot possibly know in this moment…I am choosing to focus on building my character TODAY, so I can be transformed into the person I need to be to be successful in the future, no matter where I am or what I am doing. So instead of getting stuck in the future with a bunch of ‘what-ifs’ and a thousand possible ways my life can turn out, I am choosing to be okay and at peace with not knowing while investing in building good character in the present time of NOW…TODAY.

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